Front Page

CD Shop

New Releases

Forthcoming Releases

Back Issues

Serious Soul Chart

Quality Time Cream Cuts

Vintage Soul Top 20

Boogie Tunes Top 20

Album of the Month

CD Reviews

Editorial Columns


Readers' Favourites


Soul Express Classic Soul CD of the Month - February 2009

Buy this album from our CD Shop

JAP Universal CD, 2009
The original release on 20th Century Fox, 1981
1) Winner 2) Two Hearts - Featuring Teddy Pendergrass 3) Don't Stop Doin' What 'cha Do 4) Top Of My List 5) I Believe In Love Songs 6) Night Games 7) My Love`s Been Good To You 8) Magic

Produced by James Mtume & Reggie Lucas

This album was Stephanie Mills' third 20th Century Fox release, and now all three have been reissued on CD. Unfortunately, her first 20th Century Fox album, the excellent What Cha Gonna Do... With My Lovin'? is already out of print, because it was a limited-edition release, so you'd better rush with this one!

I wrote the album by album story of Stephanie Mills' career in 2004, and the printed magazine is still available from our online shop. The same issue contains also an interview with Stephanie, done by Geoff Bingham in 2004.

As I mentioned in my album by album story, this 1981 self-titled album by Stephanie is best remembered for the Teddy Pendergrass duet Two Hearts, which was also another top 10 hit for Stephanie and a moderate pop hit. It was co-written by Tawatha Agee, the splendid lead vocalist of Mtume. Tawatha is also featured as a background vocalist - together with Luther Vandross! A 6-minute long 12" remix of the track was included on Stephanie's Gold double disc collection that was released in 2006, but as often the case with Japanese reissues, this release only contains the original album version with no bonus cuts.

For some odd reason, the album opens with the weakest cut on offer, the forgettable horn-laden mid-tempo mover Winner. Rodney Brown and Willie Lester also contributed one track, titled Top of the List, but the tune was less compelling than many of the songs they had written for Prelude artists. The arrangement on this harmless jogger is not bad, though. My Love's Been Good to You by Howard King and Edward Moore continues in a similar fashion.

My favourite tunes on this album were the classy Mtume-Lucas ballads Don't Stop Doin' What 'Cha Do and Night Games, both of which perfeclty demonstrated that Stephanie's real strength lied in passionate ballads, not in the dance tunes that 20th Century Fox first made her sing.

Of the mid-pacers, I Believe in Love Songs was an obvious follow-up to Never Knew Love Like This Before, which fared better on the pop charts than on the soul chart. The record company realised that the melody of I Believe in Love Songs was not memorable enough, and never released it as a single. Instead they tried with Night Games, which peaked at position 33.

The closing tune Magic was written by Stephanie herself together with Jeffrey Daniels, a Shalamar member to whom Stephanie was briefly married. The tune is a MOR-ish song that reminds me of the material Stephanie recorded on her For the First Time album produced by Hal David and Burt Bacharach.

Much like the other two 20th Century Fox albums, Stephanie was an uneven set as a whole, but certainly contained a couple of classy tunes that are essential for Stephanie's devoted fans. The Pendergrass duet also consolidated her position as one of the premier soul songstresses of the 80s.

- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

Soul Express Video Pick from YouTube

Stephanie Mills with Teddy Pendergrass: Two Hearts

The Latest CD Reviews
Albums of the Month in 2008

Other CD reviews
Back to our home page